Alcohol & Fetal White Matter, Steroids and Prematurity & Fetal DNA Testing 1Drinking While Pregnant Damages Fetal Brain White Matter We all know that drinking and pregnancy don't mix. We generally contend that a glass of wine with a meal is fine but getting buzzed or drinking heavily is a huge no- no. It is so dangerous that most doctors and health care professionals simply make a blanket statement to err on the side of caution and avoid all alcohol while pregnant. A study published online on Dec. 19 and in the March print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found that prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with altered white-matter integrity. According to the washingtonpost.com "The brain's white matter is made up of nerve bundles that transfer information between brain regions," study corresponding author Susanna L. Fryer, a researcher at San Diego State University's Center for Behavioral Teratology, said in a news release. "Optimal white-matter integrity is thought to support efficient cognition. So, the finding that prenatal alcohol exposure is associated with altered white-matter integrity may help explain aspects of the cognitive and behavioral problems that individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) commonly face," she said. "The brains of individuals with FASDs showed evidence of altered nerve fiber integrity at a microstructural level, even though total brain size was statistically equivalent between alcohol-exposed and comparison participants," Fryer said. Women at risk for premature births only need one round of steroid shots, study finds. Thousands of women at high risk for preterm birth receive steroid shots which speed fetal blood vessel and lung development. This can help prevent breathing problems, brain bleeds and even newborn death. According to Reuters.uk: "..a study of 1,858 women in 20 countries, published in the Lancet medical journal on Thursday, showed that additional injections every 14 days did not improve the health of the babies and actually resulted in smaller babies. 'The key findings from our study were that there was no benefit (from the repeated courses of injections) and therefore that repeated doses should not be used,' Dr. Kellie Murphy of the University of Toronto and Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, who led the study, said in a telephone interview." U.S. Government and Baylor in cahoots to test fetal DNA Baylor College of Medicine is offering a service to test fetal DNA for about 200 rare genetic syndromes, most involving mental retardation. There is no treatment for these conditions in utero and no treatment available after birth. The idea behind the screening then, is to allow the parents the option of terminating the pregnancy as 80-95% of expectant parents do when faced with a Down's Syndrome diagnosis in utero. The implications are heartbreaking and of course we at A Much Better Way are appalled that anyone could terminate a Down's baby because they are of course as important and wonderful as everyone else. In addition to the ethical, eugenics side of the coin, we have to wonder if why the U.S. Government would sponsor such a study? We believe it is in an effort to collect fetal DNA (not because they are suddenly concerned with the incidence of these 200 rare syndromes.) Perhaps the current DNA collection via newborn PKU testing is not working out for them.
Prenatal Testing and Ultrasound 0Author: Mandy Robinson With advances in technology, even if there was a problem with the prenatal development of your baby, doctors are able to respond sooner. This is all made possible due to technologies such as prenatal testing and ultrasound. It is a common misconception that pregnancy testing takes place only once, at the beginning of your pregnancy. Nothing could be further from the truth - from ultrasounds to blood tests, you will be bombarded with test after test up until even the very morning of your delivery date. 1. Primary Testing Quite a lot of blood work is performed initially for various reasons including whether you are Rh negative or positive, your immunity to viruses such as rubella, and whether you have a more serious condition such as hepatitis B, or HIV. At this initial visit you will also receive a physical and internal examination to check your capability for giving birth, and if necessary, a PAP smear. 2. Ultrasound Ultrasound, unfortunately, is not merely a tool that allows the mother to see her child before it is born, or to determine the sex of the child prior to childbirth. The real purpose of an ultrasound is to detect fetal development problems in advance or to pinpoint potential delivery problems such as placenta previa. Don't worry, however, this is actually a routine procedure carried out at 18 weeks for all pregnant women. Ultrasounds can:
- Determine early the gender of the baby
- Measure the placenta
- Check embryonic fluid composition
- Ensure the umbilical cord is not causing any complications
- Ensure there is no internal bleeding
Hypothyroidism and Pregnancy 7Author: Ryan The thyroid gland is located at middle part of the front of the neck. Hypothyroidism is underactive thyroid gland which means that the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroid hormones. These hormones play an important role in body metabolism. Hypothyroidism and Pregnancy There are a number of ways that hypothyroidism can manifest during pregnancy. This includes; having Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, thyroid nodules or goiter, elevated TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone) etc. If you have had radioactive iodine (RAI) or any kind of surgery of the thyroid or are now receiving any kind of thyroid hormone replacement then you probably have hypothyroidism. If you suffer from hypothyroidism then you are lucky to become pregnant in the first place as is prevents egg production. Once pregnant, hypothyroidism can affect your pregnancy in many ways. You have a higher risk of miscarriage. You are also more likely to develop high blood pressure and premature delivery if the hypothyroidism if left untreated through the pregnancy. There are certain "red flag" symptoms that you should be on the lookout for such as: dullness, droopy eyelids, abnormal weight gain, constipation, muscle cramps, thickening of skin, swelling around neck etc. These changes are usually spotted during pregnancy during the normal course of prenatal care. Babies born to mothers who had untreated or partially treated hypothyroidism prenatally, may never reach their full intellectual potential. The study was published in 1999, New England Journal of Medicine stating, "Women with untreated thyroid deficiency during pregnancy are four times more likely to have children with lower I.Q. scores". If you are pregnant and diagnosed with hypothyroidism, it does not need to take the joy out of your pregnancy. Once hypothyroidism is diagnosed, the thyroid hormone replacement therapy is started by doctor. The dosage is an important factor during pregnancy and is decided by your specialist. The treatment is safe and also essential to mother and fetus. One should not stop the medications by any means as this may have irreversible consequences. For the baby, it is quite rare that your baby will "inherit" your hypothyroidism. Congenital hypothyroidism appears in one of 4 to 5 thousand infants. But be sure to have your thyroid treatment started as early as possible (like in first trimester) because untreated thyroid will not only affect the mother but will also impair the child's physical and mental development. After pregnancy, your doctor will probably advise you to continue the pills. As far as breastfeeding is concerned, trace amount of thyroid hormone medication are excreted in breast milk but if your thyroid is not functioning properly then you might not be able to breastfeed at all.In fact, you must be having proper thyroid functioning and normal level of thyroid hormone to ensure enough breast milk to baby. If you are pregnant and diagnosed with hypothyroidism them make sure to receive a nutritionally balanced diet with adequate iodine salt, iron, vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Ryan is a publisher of Hypothyroidism causes, symptoms and treatment information Buy the book: The Thyroid Diet [affliate link] Image Source: Table Sale on Flickr
Ten Skin Problems of Pregnancy 3Author: Ally McNeal Pregnancy brings with it many changes, emotionally, physically, and mentally. From a mental and emotional standpoint, you're preparing to adopt a new role of parent, with all its accompanying responsibilities. Physically, of course, you're dealing with changes in the shape, function, and movement of your body. While we have a society-wide belief that pregnant women are always glowing, that, unfortunately, is not always the case. No where is this more evident than when you experience skin problems while you should be enjoying your pregnancy. You've probably heard the phrase, "the eyes are the window to the soul". If this is true, your skin is the window to your current state of health and the changes taking place on the inside. During pregnancy, aside from all the other issues, you may also have to deal with a variety of skin changes, including rashes, acne, stretch marks, breaking nails, hair growth or loss, and dark blotches on the skin. Most of these changes are directly linked to the enormous amount of hormonal fluctuations women experience during pregnancy. During pregnancy, there are all kinds of changes which can have impact on your skin, leading to new skin problems or worsening of existing ones. In some cases, pregnancy may actually help improve existing skin conditions. Let's look at various skin conditions in more detail, defining the main ten skin problems of pregnancy. 1) Rashes. Rashes appear due to irritation of the skin. One common pregnancy rash is called pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP). This is the most frequently seen condition specific to pregnancy. Women with PUPPP demonstrate a rash which starts on the abdomen and can spread to the breasts, arms, thighs, and buttocks. 2) Acne. Acne is another skin condition that may get better or worse during pregnancy. Acne is, at least in part, driven by hormones, so the hormones of pregnancy can lead to more breakouts for some women, and clearer skin for others. 3) Oily skin. Oily skin is third skin condition which may arise during pregnancy. This is related to increased levels of androgen, the male sex hormone, which causes an increase in sebum production. The more sebum produced, the oilier the skin. Many women report that their skin and hair becomes oilier during pregnancy. Most of the time, these issues can be addressed with over the counter oil controlling cleansers and products. 4) Stretch marks. The fourth skin problem of pregnancy, stretch marks arise when the under layers of the skin is stretched, resulting in visible striations on the surface of the skin. Stretch marks can be treated after the fact, but the best treatment is always prevention. Keeping your skin well moisturized, especially on your tummy, breasts, thighs, can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks. 5) Spider angiomas. These are another possible skin problem of pregnancy. Spider angiomas are groups of very tiny blood vessels which gather around a central point and radiate out like the legs of a spider. Pregnant women are likely to develop these on their chest, faces, arms, and sometimes on other places on the body. Most of these spider angiomas clear up after pregnancy. 6) Chloasma. Chloasma, also called melasma, or the "mask of pregnancy" is another skin condition which is diagnosed when certain areas of the skin turn darker because of excess pigmentation. Most often, this condition affects places of the skin which are most often exposed to sun, like the upper lip, forehead, cheeks. This condition is likely to clear up after pregnancy. Again, you can lessen your chances of chloasma by using a good (baby safe) doctor recommended sunscreen throughout the course of your pregnancy. 7) Excess hair. Changes in the hair are also common during pregnancy. Some women lose a lot of hair within a few months after delivery, while many are troubled with excess hair growth during pregnancy. Excess hair growth is most often seen on the lip and chin, and is triggered by an increase in androgen and other male hormones during pregnancy. 8) Brittle nails. Many women experience breaking, splitting, or brittleness to their nails during pregnancy. Physicians aren't quite sure why this occurs, but it may be managed with an over the counter nail hardening polish. Check with your doctor. 9) Skin tags. Skin tags are little pieces of skin which over-grow and hang from the neck. These can increase in number during pregnancy. If you have skin tags before pregnancy, then pregnancy may cause them to increase. 10) Atopic dermatitis. Also known as eczema, this skin condition may appear or worsen during pregnancy. Marked by extreme skin itchiness, too much scratching can lead to the skin become red, swollen, or cracked. If you are pregnant, be sure to watch for these ten skin problems of pregnancy. If you begin to develop any of these conditions, seek appropriate medical advice; you don't have to suffer through these conditions for the whole nine months. Chances are that your doctor will have recommendations which can address your skin problems so you can have healthy, beautiful skin, even while you're pregnant. About the author: Ally McNeal loves learning and teaching about skin care. Image Source: http://flickr.com/photos/cosmic_bandita/2272821483/
Caring for Your Teeth and Gums While Pregnant 24If you are pregnant, it is vital to pay close attention to your oral hygiene. Due to increases in pregnancy hormones, the likelihood of gum disease also increases. When a woman is pregnant, hormonal changes occur pretty rapidly in a woman's body. And since hormones travel throughout a woman's body through the bloodstream, it only makes sense that the jaws and the oral structures also receive a healthy dose of hormones. This can result in an increase incidence of gum disease, especially if the pregnant woman does not take the necessary precautions to prevent the bacteria from building up. If you have gum disease before you became pregnant, it is more likely it can get more severe if you become pregnant. The reason for this is multi-factorial. One reason for this is that the pregnant mother easily neglect their oral hygiene. With all the excitement of expecting a new child, thoroughly cleaning their teeth and gums is not a priority. These women neglect their flossing and brushing when it is more important to pay more attention to them. In addition to the distractions, pregnant women also fail to realize that their hormones affect their gums. In fact, in one study, they found that more severe periodontal disease poses additional threat to pregnant diabetics. Finally, poor nutrition can play a significant role during pregnancy especially during the first trimester when you feel sick and not likely eating the most nutritious foods. Eating the right foods and maintaining a proper nutrition is not only good for your baby but also good to maintain healthy gums. If you are pregnant, here are some tips for caring for your teeth and gums while pregnant that you can use today to help prevent gum disease from sneaking up on you and your baby.
- Brush and Floss. Just because you are pregnant does not mean you can neglect your smile. Be sure to brush and floss your teeth at least once daily.
- Make sure to include in your diet foods that are rich in proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fats.
- It is also important for you to drink lots of water.
- Consume or supplement with Folic Acid. Folic acid is also very important in your diet. Folic acid is usually found in green leafy vegetables, beans, peas, bell peppers, and nuts.
- You also need to take plenty of diary products because these food groups are rich in calcium. Pregnant women need more calcium intake because their baby usually takes their calcium nutrients, which leaves them to lack calcium for their own body nutrients.